Climate Dynamics

, Volume 46, Issue 3–4, pp 711–727 | Cite as

A study of the impact of parameter optimization on ENSO predictability with an intermediate coupled model

  • Xinrong WuEmail author
  • Guijun Han
  • Shaoqing Zhang
  • Zhengyu Liu


Model error is a major obstacle for enhancing the forecast skill of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Among three kinds of model error sources—dynamical core misfitting, physical scheme approximation and model parameter errors, the model parameter errors are treatable by observations. Based on the Zebiak-Cane model, an ensemble coupled data assimilation system is established to study the impact of parameter optimization (PO) on ENSO predictions within a biased twin experiment framework. “Observations” of sea surface temperature anomalies drawn from the “truth” model are assimilated into a biased prediction model in which model parameters are erroneously set from the “truth” values. The degree by which the assimilation and prediction with or without PO recover the “truth” is a measure of the impact of PO. Results show that PO improves ENSO predictability—enhancing the seasonal-interannual forecast skill by about 18 %, extending the valid lead time up to 33 % and ameliorating the spring predictability barrier. Although derived from idealized twin experiments, results here provide some insights when a coupled general circulation model is initialized from the observing system.


Parameter optimization Ensemble Kalman filter ENSO predictability Intermediate coupled model 



Ensemble adjustment Kalman filter


State estimation


Parameter optimization


Model control run


El Niño-Southern Oscillation



The authors thank Mark A. Cane and Donna Lee for providing the codes of the ZC model. This research is co-sponsored by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation (41306006, 41376015, 41376013, 41176003, and 41206178), the National Basic Research Program (2013CB430304), the National High-Tech R&D Program (2013AA09A505), and the Global Change and Air–Sea Interaction (GASI-01-01-12) of China.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xinrong Wu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Guijun Han
    • 1
  • Shaoqing Zhang
    • 2
  • Zhengyu Liu
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental Information Technology, State Oceanic AdministrationNational Marine Data and Information ServiceTianjinPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.GFDL/NOAAPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  3. 3.Center for Climate Research and Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic SciencesUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  4. 4.Lab. of Ocean-Atmos. StudiesPeking UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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